The recent global economic downturn has left its mark on the retail industry and marketplace. As global companies emerge from the recession, CXOs of various Fortune 1000 companies across the globe representing the consumer-packaged goods, retail, quick service restaurants and other sectors have passionately articulated a common set of needs: to leverage their scale, to be truly global and to use their information as an asset. These needs have led to an increased interest in a global shared services model. CXOs want to use this recovery phase to drive global shared services to consolidate, define and possibly centralize key functions and services in the company to help leverage efficiencies of scale globally, reduce costs and deliver competitive advantage.
Shared services is an innovative service delivery model to provide administrative, support and maintenance services of enterprise applications to multiple customers delivered by a common pool of resources around-the-clock that could include employees, consultants, infrastructure, technology, reports, transaction and processing services,etc. The interest is there, but the concept can sound complex. The understanding, or lack of understanding, of the shared services concept often impede companies selling shared services internally, although the model has been employed successfully and has benefitted many companies.
Once you have decided that the shared services model is a good course for your company to take, the biggest challenge is gaining support from management. Convincing the boardroom to sell the shared services concept internally can be intimidating and most often, unsuccessful. Advocates that take up the shared services mandate are faced with skeptics that have a counter-argument ready. Most of these companies are grappling with three key questions: What does it mean to be a truly global company with global shared services? How do they convince their board on the vision, scope, nature and benefits of this strategy? How can they begin?
When they think of shared services, they often think of the potential challenges – external perception from customers that support is not exclusive or unique, change management, the cost to implement such strategy and whether or not this model would achieve immediate benefits, unique local practices in different regions and countries and how they would change in a global shared services model, local staff and